Impressions of Abstract San Antonio Protectionism

By Gips, Michael A. | Security Management, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Impressions of Abstract San Antonio Protectionism


Gips, Michael A., Security Management


Beside the San Antonio River sits the San Antonio Museum of Art. A few brushstokes to the north is the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum. These two repositories of mankind's memorabilia are as dissimilar in some ways as the beer barrels and wrought iron balustrades that were emblematic of their respective facilities when first built. But as the following case studies show, they also have encountered--and solved--many of the same security problems.

THE AREA WHERE SAN ANTONIO'S NOTED Riverwalk complex sits was once called Yanaguana--place of refreshing waters. Security professionals attending the ASIS 47th Annual Seminar and Exhibits October 1-4 need only go a few steps away to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center to drink in the refreshing intellectual offerings of more than 150 educational sessions. Then they can find solutions for every conceivable aspect of security by visiting the booths of the almost 700 companies demonstrating innovative technologies, products, and services in the exhibit hall. Attendees will also find a steady flow of events, activities, and networking opportunities. A projected 15,000-plus international experts in security and related fields such as law enforcement, facilities management, human resources, law, and information technology are expected to be on hand.

Those in search of cultural sustenance need look no further than San Antonio's broad palette of museums and historical sites. And as Security professionals tour these exhibitions, they can appreciate not only the art for art's sake but also the priceless protection at work in the background. In the following story, Senior Editor Michael A. Gips offers a security perspective on two of San Antonio's finest cultural attractions: the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum. Turn the page and discover how artful security can be.

THE SAN ANTONIO MUSEUM OF ART documents thousands of years of artistic ferment. But before its current incarnation as a museum, the site was used for the fermentation of a less exalted, though no less cherished, cultural symbol: beer. The odors of hops, malt, and yeast have been gone since Prohibition, but the manufacturing ambiance of the main facility has remained constant throughout, as the facility has been adapted to house a cotton mill, an ice and food company, an auto repair shop, offices for the Civilian Conservation Corps, a uniform storage facility, and an ice distribution center.

In 1970, the city museum association's new director rediscovered the complex and decided to acquire it to complement the Witte Museum, which, like the brewery complex, sat alongside the San Antonio River (though a few miles away). Following eleven years of feasibility studies, fundraising, and renovation, the museum opened to the public.

Today, the museum complex encompasses eight buildings, with all 104,000 square feet of exhibit space in the main brewery facility, which itself features two crenelated five-story towers. In all, more than 300,000 objects are on permanent display or in storage. The collection brings together treasures as diverse as 7,000-year-old Attic vases and contemporary Texan sculptures. Egyptian and Roman antiquities, Asian porcelains, Dutch still lifes, post-World War II abstract paintings, decorative arts, and contemporary art are also well represented at the museum.

Apart from the facility that houses the collections on display, the campus includes an educational building, two storage facilities, an office/administrative building, a conservation lab, and a multiuse building containing the registrar's office, an exhibit shop, and a carpentry/paint area. A building across the street, which was just acquired, will be used to house office space. SAMA's security team faces the challenge of securing the museum's own collection--on display and in storage--as well as items on loan.

Exhibits on display. A factory milieu might be easy to pull off for abstract art in a Soho gallery, but it is a challenge for displaying Buddhist sculptures and Egyptian glass. …

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